Federal Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loans

The Federal Direct Loan program provides low-interest educational loans to students enrolled at least half time. There are two different types of Federal Direct loans:

  • Subsidized – the federal government pays the interest while student is in school and during the six-month grace period
  • Unsubsidized – interest acrues while student is in school and during the grace period.

Direct Subsidized Loan

This loan is awarded to students who demonstrate financial need as determined by the FAFSA. The federal government pays interest on this loan while the student is enrolled in school (at least half-time, pursuing a degree or certificate) and during a six month grace period after leaving in-school status. The fixed interest rate for the life of the loan is based on the date of the first disbursement. View interest rates and fees at studentaid.ed.gov

Direct Unsubsidized Loan

This loan is non-need based and the student borrower is responsible for the interest which accrues on the loan while enrolled and prior to repayment. The student may choose to make interest payments during the in-school period or capitalize the unpaid accrued interest when repayment begins. View interest rates and fees at studentaid.ed.gov

Undergraduate Direct Loan Maximum Annual Loan Limits

Dependent Student Independent Student
Freshman $5,500 – No more than $3,500 of this amount may be subsidized $9,500 – No more than $3,500 of this amount may be subsidized
Sophomore $6,500 – No more than $4,500 of this amount may be subsidized $10,500 – No more than $4,500 of this amount may be subsidized
Junior & Senior (each year) $7,500 – No more than $5,500 of this amount may be subsidized $12,500 – No more than $5,500 of this amount may be subsidized
Maximum Debt (Aggregate Limits) $31,000 – No more than $23,000 of this amount may be in subsidized loans. $57,500 – No more than $23,000 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.

Interest Rates, Fees, and Disbursement

Interest rates and loan fees for Federal Direct Loans are available at studentaid.ed.gov.
Loan funds (less the fees) are evenly split between the terms of enrollment and are disbursed directly to the student’s UNW account.

Loan Authorization Instructions

If you have been awarded a Direct Loan, please follow these steps to accept the award:

  1. Log on to theROCK (only students can log in to theROCK with their username and password)
  2. Select "Finances" tab
  3. Select the "Financial Aid Awards" link, then select the Aid Year and Submit
  4.  Select "Accept Award Offer" tab to accept, change, or decline loans
  5. Finally, if you are accepting your first Subsidized/Unsubsidized loan at Northwestern you must sign the Master Promissory Note (MPN) and complete Entrance Counseling at studentloans.gov. Log in with FSA ID, then select and complete both "Complete Loan Counseling (Entrance)" and "Complete Loan Agreement (Master Promissory Note)".